Recently I received something that was really pretty amazing, even for a seasoned 19th century enthousiast as I am. Someone send me a bunch of newspapers from around 1830! It was very weird to see and touch and smell something so old. They looked very nice and crisp and smelled nicely of cigars.


During the first half of the nineteenth century, duties on stamps and paper were progressively reduced, making newspapers increasingly less expensive. There was a massive growth of newspapers and news congregates during this century, and the foundations for today’s big newspapers were laid. .Newspapers of the 19th century were distinctly different from the ones we have now. I’ll give you some of my observations:

  • There was much less communication, and communication was less fast. In order to have news from all over the world, correspondents in different countries wrote a letter, explaining the happenings in their part of the world. This was printed in the newspaper verbatim. It’s like a friend writing you, it’s very nice
  • Reading the paper was pretty hard work: they did not have bold fonts, no pictures, no advertisements to rest your eyes on. All the happenings, from actual news to job offers to the times at a ship would depart are all printed back to back, in a very tiny font.
  • Newspapers were no place for funny things or mockery. Of course there were the feuilletons in newspapers, stories in parts, for which Dickens and Trollope are very famous. These were of course lighter reading but still pretty serious stuff.
  • Many people were looking for jobs. I think they were hired by their future employer just closing their eyes and pointing out an advertisement at random, there is no way to tell what kind of person someone was or what their strong points were, except that they were a shopkeeper or taylor or launderywoman.
  • There’s some really good gossip to be found! Imagine reading this newspaper and finding people who you know, offering their house up for rent or selling their chariot. Even 180 years later, you can just read between the lines and wonder at what happened.

Curious? I copied some stuff down for you:

MR. BUCKINGHAM’S lectures on INDIA, on Tuesday evenings, June 7, 14, 21, and 28, at the City of London Literary and Scientific Institution, 165, Aldersgatestreet, at 8 precisely. Tickets, 1s each. to be had at the Institution.

DISTRESSED MANUFACTURERES.– the committee, to whom have been assigned the collection and management of the fund now raising for the relief of the distress which prevaild in many of the manufacturing districts, and who have in consequence the amplest means of knowing the extent and pressure of that distress, and the utter inadequacy of the local and legal provision for its relief, respectfully, but confidently, appeal to their countrymen throughout the empire, to aid them in their endeavour to raise by general benevolence a sum proportionate to the exicengy.

DRIVING OR TRAVELLING CHARIOT.– nearly new, on telegraph springs, light, easy, and commodious, patent axletrees, lamps, drag chain, and staff, fore and hind boots with seats, and various boxes, all out of sight. The propertu of a gentleman, and will be sold for £100. Apply for reference to Honeywill, Black and Co., coachmakers, Berners-street.

ARRIVALS OF FISH.– TWO extraordinary fine perth salmon, weighing 65 lb., are now being smoked, and will be ready for sale in a few days, at Taylor’s, 43, Lombardstreet, city: the centre slices 2s. 6d. per lb. J. Taylor has lately been selling the largest and best Dutch and Dover turbots from 8s to 10s each, and cautions the public against the iced Scotch turbots now selling about town that are not worth the cooking.

BOARD AND RESIDENCE in the country.– a lady, occupying a detached cottage, which is in a very healthy and desirable situation, would be happy, in consequence of its being larger than she requires, to receive one or two inmates, to whom she can offer all the comforts of a home, the joint use of a pony and chaise may be had, and the privilege of sleeping at her house in town as occasion may require.

WASHING.– an old established laundress is desirous of obtaining a family’s, gentleman’s, or hotel’s washing, having every convenience, plenty of water, and a good drying ground. A tilted cart to all parts of town every day.

EMPLOYMENT.– WANTED by a steady respectable person, a situation as shopman, warehouseman, wharfinger, light porter &c. He writes a good hand, has been accustomed to books and trade generally, can make himself useful in any bussiness, and will engage at a moderate salary. Respectable reference.

Don’t you love that? People in the 19th century were kind of just like us! Looking for cheap cars and fish and roommates. If you want to touch and smell some old newspaper yourself, or read all about these saucy madams looking for inmates or the secondrate iced fish, you can order a newspaper from http://www.historic-newspapers.co.uk. Of course, since you’re reading this blog and therefore deserving old newspapers even more, you get a discount code: enter 15today at checkout to get a discount on any original or Victorian newspaper!

A long time ago I wrote about Keats and the saddest life story: one of the most romantic poets, living a very short and unhappy life, and now being tragically undervalued by, well, by most people (except Percy Bysshe Shelley but even that was not much of a consolation!)

I found this funny remark in E.M.Forster’s A Room with a View, referring to Keats as a writer of beautiful romantic things.

“Isn’t Romance capricious! I never notice it in you young people; you do nothing but play lawn-tennis and say that Romance is dead, while the Miss Alans are struggling with all the weapons of propriety against the terrible thing. ‘A really comfortable pension at Constantinople!’ So they call it out of decency, but in their hearts they want a pension with magic windows opening on the foam of perilous seas in fairylands forlorn! No ordinary view will content the Miss Alans. They want the Pension Keats.”

A Room with a View, by the way, is a very pleasant book to read. In describing the life and choices of a young girl it shows the difference between Victorian values and the new, more free attitude of the turn of the century, and how this affects people in their everyday dealings.

Here is some art that I like an incredible lot, and you might too. It’s made in 1913, but in a very much Art Nouveau style, I do think it fits very well with the theme of this blog. This art is by Kay Neilsen for the book In Powder and Crinoline: Old Fairy Tales, written by Arthur Quiller-Couch.

kay neilsen quiller couch powder crinoline

kay neilsen quiller couch powder crinoline

kay neilsen quiller couch powder crinoline

kay neilsen quiller couch powder crinoline

kay neilsen quiller couch powder crinoline

kay neilsen quiller couch powder crinoline

kay neilsen quiller couch powder crinoline

I like them incredibly much, how about you? You can read all about Kay Neilsen here.

These days, thanks to the amazing Google Art Project, you don’t need to travel to see great art. You can browse paintings and sculptures by your favourite artist, timeperiod, or museum.

So for today, I curated this little exhibition for you from works that are located in the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin. The museum itself is much more amazing, and in no way comparable to seeing art online, but it’s still nice to have all the art you want at your fingertips.

A little collection of romantic and impressionist artworks, closing with my favourite artist of all time.

Spring Landscape, 1862, Charles-François Daubigny

In the Conservatory, 1878 – 1879, Edouard Manet

The Grove, or the Admiral’s House in Hampstead, 1821 – 1822, John Constable

The Isle of the Dead, 1883, Arnold Böcklin

Seine Landscape near Chatou, 1855, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

The Flax Barn at Laren, 1887, Max Liebermann

Moonrise over the Sea, 1822, Caspar David Friedrich

One time when I was procrastinating in the library I happened upon this truly amazing book. It was a very small book, originally written for children, called When I was a Girl in Holland. It’s actually a very simple concept: a girl growing up in the Netherlands around 1880 describing her life, the routines and habits and holidays. This book and others in the series were meant for American children to get a view of how children in other countries lived.

The book is especially interesting because this sort of information is rarely given usually, it’s considered too trite. For example, how does a birthday party in 1880 look? How many people were hired to work on a farm, or why could Dutch people only visit their far-away relatives in winter (answer: they could ice-skate in winter and travel far larger distances!)

I searched for a long time and found the entire book online, it’s an amazing read. For the next few weeks, I’ll publish a few sections from the book, some things that I think would be interesting to you.

If you want to read the entire book, you can do so here.

Here’s the first snippet, about the writer being born:

During the next ten days, little blond, red-cheeked girls came trudging through the snow. Some were carrying parcels in their mittened hands, others had flat red-painted boxes. They knocked at the front door, called “Folk in,” and were led into the house. They placed the parcel or the box in the hands of the maid and timidly said:

“The compliments of mother, and here is a present.”

The present appeared to be a dress, an apron, a petticoat, or a pair of socks, if it came from a parcel, but if it was taken from a box it was bound to be a large layer-cake or several small tarts, baked by the village baker or bought in the nearest town, and intended for the party. […]

Now the girl was led into the big livingroom and seated on an old-fashioned chair with reed bottom; on the table before her was placed a dainty, crisp Dutch rusk covered with butter and sugar. This she ate, that I might grow up into a healthy and strong child.

The Victorian era was birthed when Queen Victoria took the throne of the United Kingdom in 1837 at the tender age of 18. It’s what happened throughout her reign and marriage that spawned the era. Queen Victoria was creative, adventurous, innovative and unafraid of trying new things. The era’s so-called “mother of feminism” launched a period of fashion that would last for over 50 years and become a worldwide phenomenon that still influences culture today.

This Victorian era was essentially broken up into two periods: the early period (1837-1860) and the mid- to-late period (1860-1901).

Early Victorian Period
The early period’s fashion was characterized by ditching hats for bonnets, Gigot sleeves which “collapsed” around a woman’s arms and dresses which showed off a woman’s neckline. Skirts were worn so that they poofed out like an umbrella from the waist on down.


Mid to Late Victorian Period
The mid-to-late period, however, was characterized more by “Princess line” one-piece gowns, which eventually evolved into dresses with trailers, that being that parts of the formal dress lagged (better known as “trains”) behind the woman wearing it.

These were designed to showcase a woman’s figure, especially if that woman was slim and trim. Other characteristics of this period were mutton sleeve legs, brightly-colored dresses and tailor made suits that women would wear. Those who wore traditional Victorian era clothing were considered among the social elite because they were taking after the Queen, who was of the highest social class.


Victorian Style in Wedding Dresses

Now that you know a little bit about the Victorian era and what fashion trends were popular during that
time, you can probably draw some parallels with modern day society, most notably with weddings.

That’s right, if you’re planning a nice wedding, with the bride decked out in a formal white wedding dress, that dress has Victorian roots, even for the most modern bride. Many brides-to-be also like to seek dresses with more of a Victorian flair to them, because women during the Victorian era of time were considered “pure and immaculate.”


And “pure and immaculate” is what many brides desire on their big day. It’s why they wear a white dress, a tradition that emerged when Queen Victoria herself was married. For an example of this, think back to some of the characteristics in fashion during the Victorian era previously mentioned. Princess-like, one-piece gowns. Dresses that reveal a woman’s neckline. Formal dresses that featured a train. Now think of the last wedding that you went to and what the bride looked like walking down the aisle. There are probably many similarities, just with a modern day twist to it.

Victorian Influence on Everyday Clothing

Weddings are one thing, but every day fashion is another. Hence, fashion designer Jessica McClintock, the founder of Gunne Sax, which eventually became the internationally-known Jessica McClintock, after her namesake. McClintock is notorious for designing her clothing line after the Victorian era and this line continues today, but with a more modernized edge. Most recently, the fashion designer has released a clothing line featuring “lush fabrics, laces and heirloom styling” in which the blouses and dresses that make up the clothing line are Victorian inspired.


The Victorian era ended more than 100 years ago, but its footprints can still be seen in homes. But there’s more to modern day Victorian era than the bricks that still stand tall today in many of America’s cities. There’s fashion, arguably the most significant trend that emerged during that time period, which continues to influence fashion designers and society today.

This guest post is by Edwin who regularly writes about celebrities, TV, movies, and fashion for the Celebutaunt blog on USDish.

Have you ever finished a book and immediately went to search on wikipedia, just to have some themes and symbols explained, or to see how other people interpreted the book? Or have you ever missed reading books in English class, where every detail could be explained, words and actions put in the right context, and you get so much more from the book then when reading it on your own? If so, I have some very good news for you! Recently I read the book The Annotated Emma and let me tell you, I want all my books to be annotated now. Regular books just won’t do any more.

The Annotated Emma
is the original text by Jane Austen printed on the left side, and the annotations by David M. Shapard (PhD and 18th century expert) on the right side. This makes the book very nice and easy to read, since you don’t have to flip to the back of the book or keep up with footnote numbers, and there is plenty of space for the notes and images to go. According to the official website the notes contain: 

-Explanations of historical context
-Citations from Austen’s life, letters, and other writings
-Definitions and clarifications
-Literary comments and analysis
-Maps of places in the novel
-An introduction, bibliography, and detailed chronology of events
-Nearly 200 informative illustrations

In this way, I learned that the word “afternoon” was used only for the hour or two between dinner and the full onset of evening, as a result the word was used more in summer. And that mr. Knightly used his farm horses to drive his carriage, which was much cheaper than keeping especial carriage horses (mr. Knightly was a thrifty man when it comes to dating!)

If you love Jane Austen, or enjoyed Emma (the book or the series), you will definitely enjoy this book. You will pick up on more hints and symbols in the text, words and habits are explained, and you get maps and a chronology. It’s an excellent book to read, whether you’ve read a lot of Austen (because you will learn many new facts) or whether you’re an Austen novice and a little scared of a text this big and old (the notes will explain everything!)

The downside (since every review needs one): This book is HUGE! You could bring serious harm to people just by lugging it around in your backpack. That is, if you’re able to lift your backpack with this book in it. Unlike many classic English literature paperbacks, this book is printed on really good quality paper, but this makes it even larger and more heavy. Definitely read at home, preferably at a steel-reinforced table.

Okay, all kidding aside, a book that I heartily recommend. It has just been released and you can purchase it here.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 362 other followers